Monday, July 5, 2010

Churning Butter

Domestic Activity week continues here at OPOD. Today's picture was taken in 1939 near Gees Bend, Alabama, and shows a woman churning butter on her porch. I wonder how many of you have ever churned butter? It is actually pretty easy to make butter. If you buy a carton of pure cream, and if you shake it up real good, you can see the butter start forming. The churns were convenient for making larger amounts. Today, it is cheaper to buy butter than it is to buy cream, and then make butter. If you have a milk cow, then things change. You skim the milk fat off the milk, and make butter out of the skimmed cream.


  1. Good morning!

    We used to be able to buy raw cow's milk at the grocery store, which always had cream on top. Yum.

    Sometimes there was lots of cream, then we'd make butter. Didn't have a churn, would shake it in a quart jar.

  2. In her delightful book, "Sundown", Jeanette Showers Moore talks about fishing trips on the Upper Green River in Wyoming. One time they all saddled up & went some ways from the house. When they opened the saddlebags to take out the lunch, all their nice cold milk had turned to butter.

  3. Yes, I've churned butter, in a churn and in a gallon jug. You get the best buttermilk from whats left after you take the butter out, not anything like you get at the store, now. Nothing like a glass of cold buttermilk on a hot Texas day. Delicious!!!

  4. I faithfully read this blog and enjoy it very much. Today I can't help myself but to make a comment.
    I have a son in need of special care. He has the need to move his hands and fingers - annoying and sometimes destructive habit. When he was younger we built a mini churn for him by using a jar with metal lid and building something into it that had a handle on the outside of the lid and a small thing that turned inside the jar when turning the handle. "Now young man, get your hand busy and do some work".
    Wonderful constructive therapy. He kept watching the butter forming and was very proud of his achievment. Today, many years later he has grown up to be a Master Weaver.

  5. I would rather wear these clothes and churn butter than have to get dressed up for ironing!

    I found that pamphlet--"Helpful Harry's Household Hints, Compliments of the Men Who Sell Washing Machines and Ironers," printed in 1936. Apparently our "old friend Helpful Harry" had a radio show, too. Anybody heard of him before?

    I'm thinking of trying to scan some pages and post them on my blog.

  6. We used to have our milk delivered. We had a milk box on the front porch. We would peal the paper seals off and skim the cream from the top before using it.

  7. That picture does make the process look easy but I imagine it takes some endurance to churn large amounts of butter - even shaking a quart jar takes some time. :)

  8. I used to churn butter with an electric mixer. We had a milk cow at the time and I just let the milk sit in a gallon jar in the refrigerator and then skim the cream and beat that with the mixer. Also made 'farmer's cheese' with rennet tablets. Pretty involved process and I only made cheese once.

  9. Merideth,
    We tried making cheese once and it was a lot of work, and the cheese did not come out very good. It was white and crumbly and did not have a lot of taste.

    Yogurt is pretty easy to make.

    I have not tried making buttermilk.

  10. Very interesting photo! I enjoy your blog. Chris

  11. Hola
    Boenas Tardes!

    your blog's pictures is very interesting...

  12. One summer, when my middle daughter had just passed her first birthday, we went on a long car trip. We had a cow then, and daughter was on whole milk. When I took the bottle out of the cooler, what cream had been in the milk had turned into tiny lumps of butter, scattered throught the bottle. Had to stop at a restaurant and get a glass of "store-bought" milk to refill the bottle. She did not like it one bit!


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